Health Ministry Prepares For Covid-19 Surge With Worst-Case Simulations

MOH and other agencies conducted a national tabletop exercise to simulate worst-case scenarios and crisis response, as Covid-19 cases rose 15% nationwide the past week.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) is bracing for a surge in severely ill Covid-19 patients amid rising new infections and hospital admissions in most states over the past week.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin in a tweet today shared that the MOH and other agencies recently conducted a National Tabletop Exercise — a simulated, interactive exercise that tests an organisation’s emergency response procedures — to “game out worst-case scenarios” and simulate crisis response to prepare for “any eventuality”.

The Greater Klang Valley Special Task Force (GKVSTF) previously ran tabletop exercises with multiple stakeholders to deal with the Covid-19 crisis in the Klang Valley in July and August. GKVSTF has now been transformed into the National Rapid Response Task Force to handle the coronavirus epidemic at the national level.

“We must be ready for a surge in our health care capacity. Rt (R-naught) at 1.05,” Khairy said.

R-naught is a mathematical term that indicates how contagious an infectious disease is. An Rt above one means an outbreak is growing, and a value below one means that the infection is now spreading.

According to indicators on the CovidNow website, new cases and hospital admissions over the past week increased by 15 per cent and 10 per cent respectively nationwide as of yesterday.

Weekly new infections rose from as low as 3 per cent to as high as 65 per cent in all states, except in Sabah and Sarawak, while hospital admissions increased between 12 per cent and 126 per cent in six states and two federal territories.

The highest weekly rise in new cases by percentage occurred in Putrajaya, at 65 per cent. The administrative capital currently has a Covid-19 incidence rate of 36 cases per 10,000 population, triple the national rate of 12 cases per 10,000 population.

For hospital admissions, the highest 7-day increase is in Kuala Lumpur at 126 per cent. Its hospital bed utilisation rate, however, is still relatively low at 44 per cent.

Six states have a bed utilisation rate of above 70 per cent. They include Terengganu at 86 per cent, Kelantan (82 per cent), Kedah (78 per cent), Melaka (77 per cent), Negeri Sembilan (76 per cent), and Johor (71 per cent).

In terms of intensive care unit (ICU) utilisation, Klang Valley (Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and Putrajaya) have the highest ICU utilisation rate at 81 per cent, followed by Terengganu (75.4 per cent), Perak (73.9 per cent), and Kelantan (70.7 per cent).

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